Stolen Bike Listings success: Bike thief foiled by technology, community

The bike, before a thief took
it for a two-week joyride.
(Photo: James Selman)

It’s been about a month since the re-launch of our Stolen Bike Listings. And it’s a good thing we did. So far in July, we’ve had 63 stolen bikes listed.

Today, I get to a share a story of how technology and the community came together to get one of them back and put its thief behind bars.

James Selman, the founder and creative director at branding agency Weights&Pulleys, listed his one-of-a-kind, custom black Seven Cycles Tsunami singlespeed (with estimated value of $4,600) on June 29th.

According to Selman, someone threw a baseball-sized rock through the glass door of his office in Northwest Portland. The smash-and-grabbers grabbed his Apple laptop and rode off on his bike.

Selman immediately listed the bike on BikePortland. Then, on July 10th he got an email from a guy named Joe in Northeast Portland. It read, “Your bike is in front of my apartment building, in the possession of a skeezy dude. I have called police…”

“Your bike is in front of my apartment building, in the possession of a skeezy dude. I have called police…”
— An email to theft victim James Selman

Joe also said that he’d seen the suspected thief before, so even if he got away, they’d have a second chance to confront him. After sending the email, Joe headed down to try and stall the suspect.

According to Selman, Joe had heard the suspect bragging about the bike a week prior (must have been right after he stole it). This time, when Joe saw the bike, he pulled out his iPhone and checked our listings. Selman’s detailed description was an exact match. “So, while he [Joe] stalled the guy,” Selman told us, “he emailed me and called the cops.”

By the time Selman made his way to Northeast, the thief was already in the back of a Portland Police car; and his beloved Seven was leaning against a wall nearby.

Upon inspection, Selman found his bike pretty beat up after the thief’s two-week joyride. Lots of chipped paint, scuffed saddle, brake levers that were “pretty raked up,” and so on. “He may have gone down on it,” Selman recalled.

Selman estimated the damages to his bike to be about $850. With that price tag, and with several hours of missed work to get the bike back and to testify against the thief in court, Selman thinks he might have been better off never seeing the bike again (and getting an insurance settlement). “It makes you wonder about dealing with the system once you get your bike back, versus just letting it go,” he said, “It’s sort of nuts.”

Last week, both Selman and Joe went to court to testify against the thief. Turns out the man who stole the bike (and laptop) has a long criminal history and this testimony will help the DA finally build a case against him.

Nice work Joe. And James, good luck re-connecting with your steed after its brief abduction. I hope it makes a full recovery.

— In other bike theft news, KATU-TV reports that a man arrested for stealing high-end bikes in the Pearl District earlier this year has pled guilty.

— You can help track down stolen bikes. Follow @StolenBikesPDX on Twitter and check out our Bike Theft Central page for more information.

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